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As hope fades for the God who is not there particle, what now?

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CERN's enormous ALEPH detector

In “Hunt for Higgs Particle Enters Endgame: Large Hadron Collider could soon deliver a clear verdict on missing boson” (Scientific American, November 18, 2011) Geoff Brummel reports

… there are few places left for the Higgs to hide. Billed as the particle that helps to confer mass on other matter, and the final missing piece in the `standard model’ of particle physics, the Higgs would be a huge prize for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. But so far, the two massive detectors there–ATLAS, where Murray works, and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) — have not seen any convincing signals of the elusive particle.

At a conference in Paris on November 18, teams from ATLAS and the CMS experiments presented a combined analysis that wipes out a wide swathe of potential masses for the Higgs particle. Gone is the entire mass range from 141 to 476 gigaelectronvolts (GeV; energy and mass are interchangeable in particle physics). Together with earlier results from the 1990s, the analysis leaves a relatively narrow window of just 114-141 GeV in which the Higgs could lurk


The quest for the Higgs boson, often called the `God particle’ after the title of a 1993 book by Nobel prizewinner Leon Lederman, is the public face of science at the LHC. Most high-energy physicists wince at the deistic designation, but they hold a near-religious devotion to the boson.

Mmmm. The god who is not there generally inspires more devotion than the God Who Is There. The God Who Is There not only exists but makes stuff happen, including stuff you really hate sometimes. Memo to BioLogos: He doesn’t have to do anything whatever the way you think he should.

By contrast, you can’t really yell at the god who is not there for not existing and for not causing anything to happen. What you can do is make up stuff about him to suit yourself, and then change it later. So you can remain devoted to your changing vision of the divine, whatever it is. Meanwhile, …

If there is no Higgs, then what? Gian Giudice, a theorist at CERN, recently published work suggesting that giant clusters of W bosons might serve the same purpose, but even he admits that “it would be a great surprise if it were true”. Other models without the Higgs boson invoke extra dimensions of space, but they are not yet sufficiently developed to guide experiments.

The comments at Slashdot are interesting.

And this is yer religious jaw for the week.

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